What did the CIA try to hide? Jonathan Holt on his research on the enhanced interrogation programme for his latest novel

“A stain on our history that must never be allowed to happen again,” is how Diane Feinstein, chairman of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, summed up the CIA’s programme of ‘enhanced interrogations’ in the Committee’s recently-released report. The press has seized on some of the details – of deaths by freezing, of ‘rectal feeding’, of prisoners threatened with power tools and subjected to multiple waterboarding sessions – but misconceptions and myths still abound.

Want to hear a story? by Miranda Sherry

Let me set the scene: the bathroom features chewing-gum pink 1970s wall tiles and a big old bathtub. Inside this, sits a diminutive, fluffy-haired toddler wearing nothing but a smear of bubbles on her chin and a determined expression. Bath time is over, there’s nothing left to clean and the water is getting cold, but the little girl wants none of it. Being in the water with the ducky and the sloppy-slappy washcloth is the BEST THING EVER. Her exhausted parents have learned that the only way to extract this small person from the bath is to say: “once upon a time…” and then pause.

A blog to celebrate National Tree Week by Max Adams

It’s the beginning of winter: a time to look at trees’ anatomy; to coppice and fell; to plant seedlings before the hard frosts come, and also to admire. But for me this national tree week started with a revelation. I have been pruning an old, outgrown hawthorn hedge and weaving the cut branches between the stems to keep deer out of a new plantation that they have been munching on. I have no idea how I got to the age of fifty-three without ever having been jabbed by one of their barbs, but it must be so. I would have remembered.

Counter-Terrorism, Hip-Hop and Mandela: The Magna Carta Legacy

Influencing such diverse subjects as International Human Rights law, the speeches of Nelson Mandela and even the title of one of Jay-Z’s hip-hop albums, the Magna Carta is one the most inspirational statements in the history of democracy. Now read an extract from Dan Jones' new book on the Great Charter.


Extract from Magna Carta by Dan Jones: